“Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant,..”

…or so it is written in a resolution passed in the South Dakota legistlature this week.  (full text of resolution)  This is just one of the resolutions and bills discussed in a New York Times article this morning that asserts that “critics of the teaching of evolution in the nation’s classrooms are gaining ground in some states by linking the issue to global warming arguing that dissenting views on both scientific subjects should be taught in public schools”  The article asserts that “the linkage of evolution and global warming is partly a legal strategy: courts have found that singling out evolution for criticism in public schools is a violation of the separation of church and state. By insisting that global warming also be debated, deniers of evolution can argue that they are simply championing academic freedom in general.”

Similar to critics of teaching evolution in the schools, critics of teaching climate change argue that it should be taught as merely a theory and both sides presented to students.  In my experience as a climate change educator for the last ten years, I have changed my teaching strategies in response to the scientific community.  The first few years it still seemed appropriate to facilitate debate among students over whether climate change was a natural phenomena vs. human induced.  It is not however appropriate any longer, as the great majority of the scientific community has consensus that climate change is happening, and it is human caused.  Today if I am working with a group of students or teacher that is interested in using debate related to this topic, it is still possible, but instead I choose debate over solutions for dealing with the problem.  Our Citizen Climate curriculum, faciliates a discussion over solutions using Pacala and Socolow’s (2004) Stabilizations Wedges activity.  In addition, our Grades 3-6 Curriculum gives students at the elementary level the opportunity to come up with solutions in their own school.

Link to the New York Times Article

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